WARNING. Contains many a spoiler.
Well with the new series of Doctor Who now over and done with I thought I would give you my thoughts and my opinions on the new series, new Doctor and also the new writing and production of the series as a whole.
At the start of this series we had a new Doctor, a new Tardis and a new assistant. The changes were not just to the shows face but there were also many changes internally with new writers brought in and a new production team. The new main architect in terms of the shows storyline was also changed from Russell T Davis to Steven Moffett. While many Doctor Who fans out there were rather disappointed with the exit of Russell, I was filled with a mixture of hope and happiness. I had hoped that this change would allow the Doctor to maybe be pushed in another direction and possibly open the show to more creative ideas, maybe some far greater and unseen enemies. Unfortunately this did not happen and this series was as safe as it could possibly be.
The truth is, I’m bored of Doctor Who with the sheer lack of originality and scope that the show seems to represent now. It’s been the same story over and over again for the last three seasons. Doctor discovers something and slowly discovers more and more as the series goes on and in the end the whole universe is destroyed only to be saved heroically and magnificently by the doctor in some implausible way. This is not the only problem with Doctor Who though, the next is the enemies he has to fight. They are boring and quite frankly there the same enemy over and over again. What makes the Darleks any different from the Cyber Men, the Slitheen or any other of Doctor Who’s supposed incalculable number of enemies? If the doctor has so many then why do we only ever see the same two make appearance after appearance. Why not use that thing called a Tardis, which is able to move through time and space, to inject some new life into the Doctor’s enemies?
I want to learn more about the culture of the Darleks and the Slitheen. I want to know how they got to be the mindless killing machines they have become. The series focuses far too much on the Doctor, even though at time he has performed some seriously questionable things. A fact that is never even hinted at by any of the shows writers. The Doctors’ God like appearance is left unscathed, atrocity after atrocity.
The biggest problem, I thought, with the new series, is the safeness of it. I felt they copied and pasted the main idea from previous series and built up the story lines around it. I also got the impression that the writer felt the need to justify his decisions to his viewers. The crack through time is a fantastic premise but was it really necessary to see them in every single episode of the show. The most notable and blatant of these was the appearance of the crack right at the end of the episode The Lodger. An episode that was very clearly just a mid-season filler. This was not the only example of this blatant justification that can be seen in the season finale, with the rather pointless inclusion of the Queen from episode two, Churchill from episode 3 and Van Gogh from episode 10. If the call was really routed to Churchill why did River not go to Churchill? Why did she go to the Queen and bring her into this whole mess. Why can’t those episodes just have been what they were meant to be… A nice distraction from the larger story. This just seems very insecure to me, like he wasn’t a hundred percent sure of the story choice and felt the need to justify them to me and the rest of the audience. This make’s him look stupid and also makes me feel quite bad at how low of an opinion he has of me, that he thinks I can’t possibly comprehend what these stories were. By bringing them into the larger picture all he does is show just how incomplete he felt those stories were. Russell never felt the need to justify his writing decision to us and no writer should ever justify his choices to his audience he should trust that his audience are going to enjoy the world he has created.
On a brighter note though, I do love the new Doctor and the new assistant, I think the Doctor is perfect and played soberly by Matt Smith with just the right mixture of youth and wisdom. I also love the type of assistant that the Doctor has and we’ve come a long way since Rose Tyler looking up to the doctor like a five-year old girl looking for daddy’s approval. We now have these strong intelligent women who are capable keeping up with the Doctor and in many ways, surpassing him. Many shows are still stuck in the 1950’s in regards to their attitude towards women and thank God for Doctor Who because no one does strong, independent women better than this show and the BBC.
I also love Rory! Finally they include a secondary character that’s there for more than comic value and actually has a purpose. I just love that thing of the normal guy who come up against the doctor and comes out looking far better and all for the love of the girl. This is a very thin tightrope to walk though and I do hope that they don’t overdo it. I also like the chemistry between all the main characters, it seems genuine and totally unforced.
Despite all my problems with the current series, I will still watch every single episode of the new series and I think that is in no small way down to the new and interesting characters in the show. I think the biggest problem though with Doctor Who, despite everything I have said here, is Doctor Who himself and the huge legacy that it has. I think the best thing that Doctor Who could do is to take a leaf out of the world of comic books and reset the series. They could use this reset to retell some old stories and invent some new ones along the way. This would levitate many of the problems that I have with the current series and allow them to expand their creative wings ever so slightly.